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'Eye of the Beholder'

A GBA Review

Eye of the Beholder is a Dungeons and Dragons game originally released for the SNES. The GBA version has some changes, mostly in the battle system, but there are others such as a lack of a beholder, a gruesome ball like, fleshy, multi eyed beast, which can find your party of warriors just about anywhere. Obviously the beholder still exists, but it has decided to wait patiently for your arrival. It’s a smug prick.

In the GBA version of Eye of the Beholder, you create a party of warriors, enter a dungeon, and then the entrance collapses, thus sealing you inside. Your goal is to venture to the very depths of the dungeon, locate the evil known as Xanathar, and defeat it in order to end its reign of terror.

Throughout your adventure, you come across a group of dwarves who have been struggling to defeat the beast. There are also numerous factions such as kobolds and drow elves who have been manipulated by the beholder.

It’s a simple game with a simple story line, and a very “Dungeons and Dragons” feel to it. While there is no information on your team, it is up to you to employ your imagination and role play, something probably best done on a table top, but nevertheless, the game is quite fun.

The Good

The visuals are fairly crisp if simple. The various levels of the dungeon do vary in color and texture, so you can easily recognize your path. You also have access to a map that develops as you traverse numerous corridors and hallways. You can also choose skills for your characters, which can allow you to disarm traps, fall safely through pits, climb up pits, and detect hidden passages.

If you’re looking for a mindless but aesthetically pleasing dungeon crawler, Eye of the Beholder is a great way to go.

The Bad

There’s no music, really; there’s a theme that plays when you first begin the game, and it’s actually very fitting, but then as you play, the game is mostly silent except for various sound effects, which don’t really add much. Although, I do enjoy hearing the death cries of baddies and monsters.

The pace in battle can be excruciatingly slow, especially if you encounter numerous enemies, and you have to slowly move your team one square at a time to reach the bad guys. The hit detection is also pretty bad until you achieve higher levels and locate magical weapons.

It’s also a pain in the ass when one of your characters croaks. You have to travel all the way to a healer, which can occasionally lead to your demise, but there’s a mixed blessing; in order to heal wounds, you can rest, but depending on your skills, you might awaken unrested and in the midst of another battle, which can lead to a swift doom, and worse, you save automatically every time you rest, so may have to reload numerous times.

Xanathar and his beholder cronies

All in all, Eye of the Beholder is a fun game, but it can be tedious and annoying at times. You’ll also end up playing the same game over and over, by which I mean that the enemies, their tactics, and the treasures you find are virtually fixed with very little variation. Still, I have enjoyed playing through this little fantasy adventure three times.

I’ll score it a C+ game. Eye of the Beholder is worth your time, but there are better games. Unfortunately, the GBA is a bit limited in its options for dungeon crawlers, so if you’ve nothing to do, and you want to traipse through a treacherous dungeon laden with traps and monsters, call a team of warriors and wizards to arms, preach to them the dangers of Xanathar, dole out their weapons and magic, and let them loose to do battle!

Thanks for reading!

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